Justice and the Journey

IMG_0237The Greek word, Arate, represents a life well lived – one full of virtuous living, according to the ancient virtues of perseverance, justice, empathy, integrity, intellectual courage, confidence in reason, autonomy of thought, faith, hope, and charity/love.

Early Christians, like St. Ambrose and Augustine, incorporated ancient philosophy into their understanding of the Christian journey because virtuous living helped to define and establish a “Godly” path toward truth and goodness.

Thomas Aquinas went a step further, and posited that “secular” ethics and God are compatible and form a reasonable foundation for Christian belief and practice.  Knowing that Christian practices are an amalgam of pagan tradition and spiritual interpretations helps us understand that the desire to live a just life is not confined to the Christian experience alone.

In the time of Aristotle (B.C.), humans understood that happiness could be achieved through virtuous living if they strove to exhibit the qualities that Jesus came (later) to embody.

Justice, across all humanity and faith traditions, reflects the universal “Golden Rule” – do unto others as you would have them do to you. Simplified in daily life, it could be showing, rather than telling, children to be kind to others, or allowing them to experience consequences.

How does this translate into local, national, and world affairs? What do the positions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi teach us about living in the world, rather than isolating ourselves to only those who think like us?

Understanding justice in the context of Jesus requires love. Understanding justice in the context of Jesus also requires truth. When we cast votes in elections or express views on social media, do we start with truth and love? How can we begin to understand the other through a lens of respect?

Deep understanding begins with integrity of thought and integrity of practice. If the good life (arate) can be achieved through daily habits of mind, then let us begin in love.